Question of the Weekend: How Compelling are Car Commercials?

They are the staple of American Television, the great Car Commercial. They range from the Subliminal, to the Outrageous. When a new model is introduced, there is fanfare, beauty shots, talk about performance or luxury, or even fuel economy. However, when a best seller ages, there is the blaring ads about cut rate deals, attractive leases, or giant rebates. And when a car (or truck) becomes so old, there isn’t any advertising on it at all. Just try and find a current advertisement on the Ranger, or the Lincoln Town Car.

So the question is this: Are car commercials compelling enough to sway your purchasing decision, or are they just taking up time in your programming? I’m sure you will have a lot to say about this…

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  1. facelvega Avatar

    It's like most advertising since the modern version of the idea of branding slowly took over advertising in the early 20th century, and definitely since radio and television solidified this practice: the individual commercial doesn't convince you about anything, but the group of them together make you A. aware that the brand and product exist at all; and B. understand that the brand connotes some set of ideas (luxury, value, engineering, beautiful design, good taste, etc.).
    Basically it's an active strategy built into a matrix between market analysis and product development. The problem arises when the ad men just focus on market analysis and ignore the product development, or worse, let the bean counters take over the development– i.e., just focus on building an image without worrying about the substance. It's a lot easier than making sure the product actually lives up to the hype. I actually like old Cordobas, but whoah they are not what Ricardo Montalban would like us to believe.

  2. Stephen Hood Avatar
    Stephen Hood

    Bought my current Silverado after seeing a commercial with Jeff Gordon driving one. I'd made up my mind to buy a new Tundra. I'd driven a Dodge, Ford and Toyota. I was watching a NASCAR race and saw the Gordon commercial, said to myself, "I haven't looked at a Chevy," and drove home in the damn thing the next day. I was in the market for a crew cab and I'd done some research, but the Silverado wasn't on my radar screen. Thankfully, it has been a good decision and I am a happy Chevy owner thanks to corporate marketing during a NASCAR race. I can't think of any other time that's happened, and I'm not a Gordon fan, but the commercial got me in the Chevy store.

  3. citroen67 Avatar

    I think that they are compelling, as long as they make an impression. I can think of a handful of car commercials that, even now, make me want to own the vehicle that is/was featured in them. More than one of them is of a truck bouncing through mud/dirt in slow motion. One of the more recent ones was during the holidays when there was a Dodge Challenger slowly circling, and doing a burnout, around a litter of other Chrysler vehicles. That one made me want to buy a Challenger!

  4. west_coaster Avatar

    How many people bought into the SUV craze of the 1990s / early 2000s because they were swayed by the commercials? You know, the ones where fit young models are seen up in beautiful mountain settings, hoisting their kayaks or mountain bikes off the roof.
    Joe and Jane Sixpack probably saw those while sitting on their sofa eating Cheetos and said, "Hey, that's us!" Meanwhile the reality was that they never went anywhere outdoors-y, watched thirty hours of television a week, wore "athletic shoes" secured with Velcro even though they hadn't done anything remotely athletic in decades, and used the body-on-frame four wheel drive sport utiliy to drive to Costco or the shopping mall. But in their minds, they were ready for adventure at the drop of a hat.

  5. buzzboy7 Avatar

    If I based my automobile buying off commercials I don't think I could own a car. Especially with commercials like "Imported from Detroit", "Watch Me Drive Through Mud" and "I'm Driving Through A City". However, I did own a VW beetle and they had one of the best and most compelling advertising campaigns I've ever seen. The VW had some great "ironic" print ads and some really good TV ads. I also really like this ad. I think I could buy a Volksie bus from this ad or from others in it's series of South African VW ads.
    [youtube KpRhlCMGwcg youtube]

    1. west_coaster Avatar

      The VW ads from the '60s and '70s were legendary, and picked up numerous awards. Part of their charm was frequent self-mockery, but always in a strangely positive way.
      One of my favorites was the one for the Karmann Ghia
      [youtube YmiH9yofjKo youtube]

  6. Alff Avatar

    Only if they feature a "dog" named spot, a guy taking a sledgehammer to a 'Vette, or a Cuban Gynecologist.

  7. scoutdude Avatar

    Most of them are filler at best.
    Now I'm a bleed Ford blue kinda guy but the current Northwest Ford dealers ad for the F150 makes me not want to buy one. The jist of it is: No telling where in the NW you'll find me and my f150, camping in the mountains, towing the boat, or bringing home materials from the home center. But most likely you'll find me and my F150 taking the kids to school.
    I do admit to wanting a Cordoba for it's rich Corinthian leather when those ads came out but I was just a kid a still a few years away from a drivers license and quite a few years from being able to buy a brand new car. Since then the only commercial that makes we want to buy a new car has been the recent ones for the Mustang.

  8. $kaycog Avatar

    I saw this commercial when it was first aired during a Super Bowl game. It was compelling enough that I would have bought one if I had the funds.
    [youtube RQ18DkQTRuY youtube]

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      I think YOU are the best commercial for the GT.

  9. P161911 Avatar

    Maybe informative, but usually not THAT compelling. It is a good way to find out what kind of rebates might be going or that type of thing. It might get me to go to the net to check something out.

  10. Sales Geek Avatar
    Sales Geek

    Meh. I've used car ads as a proxy for the intelligence of management when buying automotive stocks (thank you *very* much, Ford!). The Chrysler Super Bowl ad with Eminem was pretty darned good but it's way overplayed to the point of annoyance. Their mini-van ads need to go back to the bit-bucket. The vans themselves aren't too bad but the ads are just emasculating. GM ads are all over the map. They seem to be throwing a lot…stuff against the wall to see what sticks. There still doesn't seem to be any one person/group in charge and there is definitely no guiding theme for ads or cars. At least Ford uses a common spokesman (the multitalented Mike Rowe). And they seem to be building what people want.
    But me? I own a 2000 BMW M5 that has had an engine transplant. I have an F150 for when the M5 isn't running.
    But part of the reason I own the M5 is the series of ads that BMW ran online a while back. Google for the one titled "The Star." (should be I don't drive like that…but I could…:-)

  11. Jim-Bob Avatar

    The only vehicle I have ever owned with a memorable advertisement is my 1998 Frontier. Back then, Datsun…err… Nissan was running a series of commercials with a Yutaka Katayama looking actor telling us all that "Dogs love trucks". However, that was not a part of my buying decision. No, it was Nissan's reputation for building bulletproof small trucks that made me buy it. I figured I could push it to half a million miles without an overhaul. So far, 362,000 on the original engine and owner, so I have yet to be proven wrong.

    1. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
      Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

      Yes, but does your dog love it?